In the research world, it's always a bonus when we can go the extra mile and ensure that what we do every day is helping others and having a tangible, positive effect. It's one thing to beef up the technology our output feeds, but it's another to be able to cooperate with others in the industry and help provide an extra push on certain issues. In the security industry, there are plenty of opportunities to engage in efforts that aren't driven by potential profits, but too often we get buried in the day-to-day barrage of work to grasp those opportunities.
For these reasons, I have fully embraced the No More Ransom project. This organization allows security professionals to go beyond our own internal focus and serve the greater good by cooperating with law enforcement and others in the industry to help those who have been affected by ransomware. There is always extra help we can offer the industry as a whole to prevent the impact of ransomware, as well as assist those post-infection where possible.
The No More Ransom project is even more relevant and necessary today than it was at the time of its launch in July 2016. Every day, we see more variants of existing families of ransomware. Ransomware is not a new threat or phenomenon, but the increased commoditization and ease of entry allow for the explosive proliferation of this problem. In the last few years, the rise in "ransomware as a service" (RaaS) has allowed for those with no coding ability and no experience in the "business" side of malware to succeed in malware-based extortion. Criminals with no technical ability can generate their own variants of Petya/Goldeneye, NemeS1S, and other forms of ransomware.
NemeS1S is an RaaS offering that popped up in January 2017. As one of the newest examples of the RaaS trend, it illustrates both the need for efforts like No More Ransom as well as the lack of preventive capability within traditional, signature-based antivirus controls.
With such a low barrier to entry, the need for efforts like No More Ransom is amplified. Partners in the project can assist the public by providing assistance in a number of ways. This includes, but is not limited to, extremely high-level technical analysis, custom decryption tools to be given to the public for free, and publicizing indicators of compromise related to ransomware threats and threat campaigns.
The issue is not going away, and, if anything, the barrier of entry is diminishing to nearly nothing. Efforts like No More Ransom are becoming even more necessary to further assist the public and serve the greater good. Disarming the authors of ransomware—that is, through the wide release of decryption keys and open decryption tools and utilities—is key.
I encourage you to visit the No More Ransom website to learn more about the project. New tools and information are distributed via the site on a regular basis. You can also follow the movement via Twitter using the hashtag #NoMoreRansom.
For more information about this new malware type, see Jim Walters' blog post here.